As the new school year rolls in, so have a number of changes surrounding the Goshen College Department of Student Life. Not only have the student life offices been moved into Wyse Hall, but multiple new positions have been created.

These changes bring many benefits, including more responses from student life workers to students’ requests, widening the amount of inclusion on campus and within the community and more than double the amount of free counseling sessions available to students each year.

Gilberto Perez Jr., dean of students at Goshen College, said that student life put together a survey last year asking what types of changes the student body would like to see happen within the student life department.

The results showed that a wide range of students wanted there to be more responses to students’ concerns and needs on and around campus. Showing that the department cares became one of Perez’s biggest concerns. He wants to use these changes in “showing the benefit of care”  that the student life directors have for the student body.

“We’re hoping to build more trust with each other to build stronger relationships with the students,” Perez said of student life staff. Their offices are always open and there is always someone ready to talk, no matter the subject.

New and expanded positions within the program address a variety of students’ needs. These new positions include Associate Director of Student Life for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Dr. LaKendra Hardware; Community Impact Coordinator, Richard Aguirre; Career Networks Coordinator, David Kendall and Director of Student Life Operations, a newly expanded role for Chad Coleman. These positions aid career planning, community advocacy and student support.

Alongside these positions, there are also two new counselors. They provide counseling services for anything from substance abuse to sexual trauma. Students can receive up to four free counseling sessions per semester at Goshen with our new counselors Rick Eby (available Monday-Friday) or Jennifer Miller (available Wednesday afternoons). If more services are needed, students can be referred to the Oaklawn campus in Goshen to continue counseling. There is also a new 24-hour crisis hotline that will connect you with a student life member, and in the case of a large-scale emergency, they will connect you to an emergency hotline.

In a campus-wide email, Perez wrote, “Building a culture of care, trust and inclusion requires we do a lot of listening to one another. We will need to walk closely with each other. It is my hope we will experience joy on the journey.”